Our nervous system reacts to everything around us and in us!
This past week with world events escalating and a tragedy hitting close to home, I recognized the signs of a rapidly unraveling nervous system.
Here are the symptoms I experienced. Maybe you can relate. Constipation, inability to focus on one task, disrupted sleep patterns, racing thoughts, chaotic energy while experiencing fatigue, craving for salted or sweet foods.
Without the mindfulness practices that I have worked so diligently on during good times, I would have been in worse shape when the rubber met the road, so to speak. This is why we practice every day. It is much more difficult to learn these techniques during times of crisis, than in calmer periods of your life. However, many people choose to ignore these resilience-building practices until they are facing acute stress. That is, unfortunately, human nature.
Our Bodies Keep The Score
A week ago, we got news of the passing of my youngest son’s best friend. Our boys had been inseparable all throughout high school and managed to be connected throughout college even as they went on different paths to different schools. In fact, a group of these young people managed to see each other every break and even went to the Keys together this summer. Sean Shearman captained the boat of this group. Shock hit them all immediately. The pandemic made it more difficult to figure out how to navigate their grief together.
At first, we were at a loss of how to support our son, his friends, and Sean’s parents. The convergence of emotions of sadness for the family of Sean, worry for how his passing would affect all who loved him, confusion over saying and doing the right things, overcare, irrational fears of car crashes (Sean and his roommate were t-boned by a speeding truck) as our middle son was driving 6 hours in horrible weather to attend the Celebration of Life, all converged on me.
Healthy Rituals and Healing Practices Can Help!
These are the moments in life that we all experience at some point or another and these are the traumas that can tip the scale for the nervous system. When the nervous system is off-kilter, chronic pain and other conditions either appear for the first time or reappear if they have been in remission. I know. I was at this place in my life for years. But here are some tools in my toolbox that have helped me, and I believe will help you.
- Practice a Body Check-in. Click here for a short practice that I offer my yoga students.
- Practice Inner Ease Breathing from HeartMath multiple times a day (instructions provided in this link to a HeartMath PDF) I am a Certified Coach.
- Double up on your nutrition and add in some extra supplements like GABA and Magnesium. I was cooking up a storm of highly nutritious food for all of us.
- Keep up your spiritual practice. I pray every morning and night.
- Reach out for support to loved ones or a Health Coach. These days my coaching practice does include educating and supporting my clients on all these skills. Find out more here.
- Write. Draw. Sing. Cook. I did many of these except singing and drawing. You do not want to hear me sing or see my artwork.
However, I did find a way to creatively express my feelings, thanks to fellow HeartMath Certified Coach Gail Boynton.
Signaling to Your Body that it is Safe is the Key!
I made this Word Cloud for Sean’s family. I used all the phrases and expressions that I heard during the week following his death from my heart and the hearts of the others who were grieving.
We cannot control what happens in the world. When we try to control it or numb ourselves to it, inevitably we dysregulate our nervous system. These practices are about helping us deal with the emotional ups and downs of life in a way that keeps our bodies, minds, and hearts strong as we navigate the choppy waters.
By the way, as I write this, we are getting ready for a Tropical Storm to hit. More opportunities to practice these skills. If you create emotional and spiritual strength, your body and mind will thank you!